Pettitte gets work in at Legends Field

Pettitte gets work in at Legends Field

TAMPA, Fla. -- Andy Pettitte bounded off the mound, raced to the bag and accepted a flip from first baseman Don Mattingly, recording a putout.

It was a scene straight out of 1995 as Pettitte threw 65 pitches at Legends Field on Monday, substituting for his third start of the spring.

With Andy Phillips notching nine at-bats against Pettitte, Mattingly -- now the Yankees' bench coach -- filled in as a first baseman and showed he can still pick it at age 45.

"That was definitely funny," Pettitte said. "He gave me a bad break on a groundball to first. His reaction time is not real good. I just told him, 'Dude, don't get hit, whatever you do.' I'd feel terrible if he took a bad hop."

Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter made up the left side of the infield, but there was Minor Leaguer Kevin Russo manning second base, and Mattingly -- a nine-time Gold Glove Award winner -- patrolling the area around first base.

Jeter joked that he had intentionally bounced a throw to Mattingly to see if he could still scoop it, and sure enough, Donnie Baseball can. But Mattingly hesitated to dive for one of Phillips' singles, drawing laughter when he changed his mind and let the ball scoot into right field.

"I'm all over the place today," said Mattingly, who later threw batting practice to Yankees hitters in Fort Myers, Fla. "It'll keep me in shape, one way or the other."

Teaming with catcher Jorge Posada, Pettitte worked four simulated innings against a rotation of Phillips and Minor Leaguers Cody Ehlers and Justin Christian.

"He looked like he was loose," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "He didn't have any problems. He looked like he was very comfortable."

By pitching in the afternoon workout, Pettitte was spared a lengthy bus ride to Fort Myers, where the Yankees met the Red Sox in their only Grapefruit League meeting.

It has been suggested that the maneuver was to disallow Boston an advance look at Pettitte, who is returning to the American League after three years with the Astros. Pettitte said skipping the bus ride wasn't his idea, though he also wasn't complaining.

"That wasn't my theory," Pettitte said. "The Red Sox know what I throw. I guess they're taking care of a guy that's got a little bit of [Major League] time in. There's a lot of road trips I'll be taking this Spring Training, so they let me stay here for one of them."

Pettitte said his left ring finger felt no ill effects from his start Wednesday against the Reds, when he was nicked by a sliver of a broken bat, drawing blood. Pettitte stayed in that game and completed a 49-pitch outing, but said that he felt a difference on Monday.

"I think my command was maybe a little affected when I stayed in the game," Pettitte said. "It's normal, because my finger was a little numb. I was controlling the ball a lot better [Monday] than I did in that Reds start."

Pettitte recorded two strikeouts, walked none and allowed four hits in Monday's simulation, throwing 38 pitches for strikes.

"His stuff was pretty good," Phillips said. "We talked about it. He had some life on his fastball today, and his breaking ball was sharp. He made some adjustments with his changeup. He looked pretty good to me."

Throwing a few cutters now that his arm strength is increasing, Pettitte allowed two runs in the four innings -- run-scoring hits by Christian and Phillips -- but those numbers are not completely accurate because the Yankees put extra runners on base without hits, forcing Pettitte to work from the stretch.

"For a simulated game, I felt good," Pettitte said. "Mechanically, I felt real good. I got some good fatigue in my shoulder and worked it good. Everything was good today. I feel like I'm getting stronger."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.